An evolution towards simplicity has Final Fantasy XIII, as well, which, coming from kind of its own silo of development -- it's been quietly bubbling...
PM: Yeah. I've really got to go back and play the Final Fantasys. But I find them a huge time-sink, and it's kind of like saying, "Right. I'm going to go on a massive marathon now. I've got to get ready for it." I really enjoy them, but I haven't played Final Fantasy XIII at all. So what's it like? What have they done with it?
It's extremely streamlined. I think part of it was due to production difficulties, and they're pretty honest about that. But it's extremely linear for the first half of the game, and it gradually introduces gameplay in a measured way.
Unlike a lot of games, they've made the decision to stick with turn-based combat, so to actually try to make it understood by the player they very gradually introduce new elements over the course of the first 15, 20 hours of the game. Every so often, they just feed you another piece.
PM: See, that is such an interesting -- now, I've got this talk that I gave, which is all about steeds in World of Warcraft, because when I played World of Warcraft this was like a dawning moment of realization for me: that the steeds in World of Warcraft, brilliantly, didn't come until you were level 40.
That anticipation that it built up in me as a player -- I didn't care what the gameplay was like; I didn't care how tedious it was. I just wanted to get a steed! The fact that I'd be trudging along as a Tauren and someone would speed past me on a horse would just piss me off!
Measuring out those gameplay features so that they don't come at once. So often, as an industry, we've made the mistake of, "Oh my God; we've got to give everybody everything all up front, or otherwise they're going to get all pissed off!" and then, within half an hour, you should have everything in the game.
Now, it's much more about -- I mean, Fable III is like this -- okay, you've got your time with magic; you've got your time with the guns; you've got your time with the swords; you've got your time with judgments; you've got your time with rule; you've got your time with touch; you've got your time with the dog.
If you measure them all out and get people to anticipate them, then they're so much more powerful. That just is another one of those things where you think, "Well, why didn't I just think like this five years ago? Why wasn't it like this before?" It's a real inspirational thing.
You said, "I don't care how tedious this is; I just want the reward." Chris Hecker spoke about the fact that, that if we keep giving rewards for actually tedious gameplay, we're going to create a situation where gamers expect rewards and slog through tedium to get to them.
PM: Yeah. I think you've got to be careful. I don't mind grinding; I actually quite like grinding, and I actually quite like the idea that I've got this highly dramatic moment -- it's all about emotional gameplay, and it's all about the feeling of winning and victory and challenge -- and then I've got a bit of downtime. I've got a bit of peaceful time.
It's very interesting how, as game designers, you have to battle against, when you're in development, people's perceptions. The jobs in Fable II -- everyone hated the jobs in Fable II when we were in development. "Oh, you know; hitting a hammer against an anvil for half an hour -- no one's going to do that. It's ridiculous. It's awful. Where's the fun? Show me the fun."
A lot of senior management people would say, "Why are you wasting your time on these jobs? No one's going to do them." But the point was that doing those grindy things can actually feel really nice, especially if you feel like, "I'm doing this grinding for a particular purpose. I want to get this much gold." That's fine!
The trouble is if you overplay that hand or if the grind turns into tedium, then it ends up being an experience where you think, "Why am I doing this? This is just... I'm just wasting my life!"
It's kind of like watching bland television, and you go off and think, "Why am I grinding, watching this television?" You've got to mix it all together and all part of the whole experience, and so I do think, when I look at something like FarmVille -- which is a lot of grinding, but there's a social side as well; they just get away with it.